ESCAP unveils evidence-based guide to disability-inclusive policymaking in the region

In supporting member States to achieve a disability-inclusive society, the use of reliable and comparable disability data should be at the heart of disability policy making, according to a United Nations report released here today.

With a focus on disability statistics, Disability at a Glance 2012: Strengthening the evidence base in Asia and the Pacific published by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the report provides a regional overview of disability policies and practices based on data and information from around 50 countries.

The United Nations estimates disability prevalence to be 15% of the total population worldwide. In the Asia-Pacific region, this corresponds to 650 million persons with disabilities. One of the main findings of the report is that these figures stand in stark contrast to those reported by the majority of countries in the Asia-Pacific region, resulting in a 4.6% prevalence average, or 200 million persons with disabilities. This difference represents a gap of 450 million persons with disabilities. The report also reveals an enormous regional spread in reported country-specific prevalence, ranging from 1 to 18.5%.

Addressing these disparities, the report highlights the complexity of interpreting disability data and explains how different approaches to defining, measuring and collecting disability data generate these very different outcomes. It points out, however, that these country differences are by no means a reflection of cross-country differences in development levels.

Recognizing the progress seen in terms of availability of disability statistics and the development of national disability policies and action plans, the report emphasizes the need for more and better data to inform the design, implementation and evaluation of effective policy and programme responses.

Additionally, the report notes that older persons in some countries will make up 70 to 80% of all persons with disabilities by 2050, requiring a comprehensive social policy approach and forward-looking policies that simultaneously address both ageing and disability-related concerns.

“Sustainability of economic and social development depends on building inclusive societies that address the needs of all groups, including persons with diverse disabilities, who are currently marginalized from the region’s development process,” says the report.

The report was launched during the “High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on the Final Review of the Implementation of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 2003-2012” organized by ESCAP and hosted by the Government of the Republic of Korea in Incheon from 29 October to 2 November.

The findings in the report will support evidence-informed policymaking by Asia-Pacific Governments towards implementing the agenda of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022 to be launched here tomorrow and proper implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.